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JFH Staff Blog | December 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009

Looking Back on 2009 - YOUR top 10 of the Year

This Friday marks the beginning of a new year - 2010. As we get ready to ring in a new year (and a new decade!), let's look back over the past year of music for 2009.

Recently, the JFH staff announced their personal Top 10 Christian albums of 2009 . So with our sharing of our top 10 lists, it seems only fair for you all to get a chance to list your Top 10 Favorite Christian Albums that were released between this year in 2009 too! Without explanations for each one, feel free to list your Top 10 in the comment field below and share with everyone which records YOU would pick as your Top 10 of the past decade! Just list them as Artist, Album and (year). Like this:

1. Jars Of Clay - "The Long Fall Back To Earth"

Remember -- this is for 2009 Christian market releases only... this is not the blog of your picks for the past decade. :)

Cool? Happy listing!

~ JFH

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Memories

Christmas has always been a huge holiday for me and my family. Even  before I was a believer, my family made a big deal out of the holiday. Christmas has always been the time for us to shower a loved one with gifts. Ha - even if that meant going into debt to do it (which I later found out, was usually the case too)! And as a Christian, it's been difficult to consider conducting Christmas any other way. But it's still easy, in the hustle and bustle of the season, to forget the original purpose and intentions of Christmas. The devotional I read today was a nice reminder of Jesus' birth in Luke chapter 2, and it's quiet times like that that are helpful in refocusing our thoughts and hearts on what (and Who) really matters most.

I've been wanting to write a blog about Christmas -- more than likely a retrospective, specifically. I'm still a kid at heart when it comes to Christmas. My favorite memories as a child are centered around surprise gifts or sneaking downstairs after everyone's gone to bed to check out the bountiful spread underneath the Christmas tree. And there's part of me today that still wants to feel those little joys again -- to get lost in the "Christmas feeling" of my childhood. If I try to look at it through those tiny eyes, the favorite Christmas memories involve surprise presents -- like our Grandparents getting us the original NES (Nintendo) and a GameBoy! Or waking up to find a non-wrapped G.I. Joe figure in our stocking for several years in a row (meaning we can play with it before the parents get up, when we can then open the rest of the goodies). Even as a young teen (and baby Christian), my favorite memory was getting PFR's Great Lengths on Christmas Day in 1994, when it wasn't supposed to release for another day or two AFTER Christmas (the local Christian bookstore just happened to put it out early, so my parents stumbled upon it and made both my brother's and my day with the unexpected surprise!). As I've gotten older and have come to learn about Jesus, the things that matter most obviously have changed. I've found myself wanting to just sit back in a corner by the Christmas tree at our big extended family Christmas get-together and sort of just soak in the frenzy of everyone exchanging presents and smiles and laughs. Because of how I was raised (and because I'm hopelessly sentimental), it's difficult to imagine Christmas without exchanging gifts, but even if there were just a couple items under the tree, I realize it's the family time we spend together that is the real gift. And remembering God's amazing gift of His only Son to us that night in that stinky, smelly, drafty stable outside of the Inn should really be enough for us.

So I guess reflecting on the past and focusing on what matters most is really a continued reminder for myself. But I wanted to take this opportunity to invite you all to share a Christmas memory here on this blog. It could be about a favorite gift you received or gave to someone... or maybe it's just a favorite family moment.

What is one of YOUR favorite Christmas memories?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go put on some classic Christmas tunes before we have to rush out to see family for a Christmas Eve dinner! :)

Merry Christmas, everyone! From all of us at Jesusfreakhideout.com

- John DiBiase
President / Founder / Editor

Monday, December 21, 2009

We Recommend - Switchfoot, 'Hello Hurricane'

With only two weeks left in 2009, I was thinking it to be most appropriate to look back over the best of 2009. An album that placed high on many-a-top-ten list for 2009, Switchfoot's Hello Hurricane is a gem two and a half years in the making. Like nearly every Switchfoot record for me since their debut (with the exceptions of Nothing Is Sound,  which I liked immediately, and Oh! Gravity, which I'm still not crazy about), Hello Hurricane was a record that got better with each listen. I liked it at first when I popped it in one August morning, but not nearly as much as I did ten or so listens later. After recently experiencing their Hello Hurricane Tour - in which they played the entire record from start to finish - I had an even greater love and appreciation for the project. From Jon Foreman's usual thoughtful lyrics and passionate vocals to the driving rock anthems of "Mess Of Me" and "The Sound" and on down to the worshipful moment in "Always," Hello Hurricane is quite simply a triumph in many ways. It's a highlight of 2009 and certainly a fine way to help wrap up another decade of music. - John DiBiase (JFH President/Editor)

Switchfoot
 Hello Hurricane (2009)

Click here for a JFH Staff Review.

Our synopsis: "Switchfoot returns after almost three years with one of their career best: a rock album with thoughtful and reflective moments. It's just what we've come to expect from Switchfoot... and more." (Recommended by JFH's John DiBiase)
Perfect For: Encouragement, pensive moments, worship
Song Highlights: "Needle And Haystack Life," "Hello Hurricane," "The Sound," "Red Eyes," "Free," "Mess Of Me," "Always"

So, what are your thoughts on and experiences with the album Hello Hurricane? Do you recommend it? If so, why?

Monday, December 07, 2009

We Recommend - Family Force 5, 'Christmas Pageant'

All year long, we had been hearing rumors (and subsequently confirmations and details) about a Family Force 5 Christmas album.  Well, back in October (kinda early, but whatever), we were treated to their take on Christmas songs, as well as a couple of their own that they wrote for the album.  The boys did Christmas as they do everything - however they want (such as a gangsta version of "Carol of the Bells" and giving the "Little Drummer Boy" a drum machine).  But they also throw in a traditional style Christmas pop song with "It's Christmas Day," which also incorporates a family vibe by having the Olds brothers' father, Jerome Olds, provide some vocals as well.  My personal favorite from this project would probably be the FF5 original, "The Baby," a dirty south quasi-hip hop song about the three wise men going to visit the baby Jesus in the manger.  Family Force 5's Christmas Pageant isn't the best Christmas project I've ever heard, but it's a fun and fresh take on some Christmas jams (and "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music?), and it'll most likely go down as one of the most original or creative Christmas albums ever made. - Scott Fryberger

Family Force 5
Family Force 5's Christmas Pageant  (2009)

Click here for a JFH Staff Review.

Our synopsis: "Somewhat of a solution to our desire for a gangsta Christmas." (Recommended by JFH's Scott Fryberger)
Perfect For: Christmas cheer and light-hearted fun
Song Highlights: "Carol of the Bells," "Little Drummer Boy," "My Favorite Things," "Angels We Have Heard on High," "It's Christmas Day," "The Baby"

So, what are your thoughts on and experiences with the album It's Family Force 5's Christmas Pageant ? Do you recommend it? If so, why?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Give Us YOUR Top 10 Of 2000 - 2009!

This week, the JFH staff announced their personal Top 10 Christian albums of the decade: 2000-2009 . So with our sharing of our top 10 lists, it seems only fair for you all to get a chance to list your Top 10 Favorite Christian Albums that were released between the year 2000 and 2009 too! Without explanations for each one, feel free to list your Top 10 in the comment field below and share with everyone which records YOU would pick as your Top 10 of the past decade! Just list them as Artist, Album and (year). Like this:

1. Switchfoot - "The Beautiful Letdown" (2003)

Cool? Happy listing!

~ JFH

 


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